The Smith & Wesson was at eye level, gleaming silver, still where I had left it less than two minutes before. Perhaps it was that, the scant shavings of time that had been planed off since Sarah was alive and all was well, that drove me. Less than two minutes ago I could have picked up the gun, I’d even thought about it, so why not now. I gritted my teeth, pressed my fingers harder into the hole in my chest and staggered upright. Blood spattered warmly against the back of my throat. I braced myself on the edge of the table with my free hand and looked back at the cop. I could feel my lips peeling back from the clenched teeth in something that was more a grin than a grimace.
“Don’t make me do it, Kovacs.”
I got myself a step closer to the table and leaned against it with my thighs, breath whistling through my teeth and bubbling in my throat. The Smith & Wesson gleamed like fool’s gold on the scarred wood. Out in the Reach power lashed down from an orbital and lit the kitchen in tones of blue. I could hear the maelstrom calling.
“I said don’t—”
I closed my eyes and clawed the gun off the table.
Kawahara’s mouth twisted without humour. “You mock me? You, with the blood of dozens from the Wei Clinic fresh on your hands. A butcher for the Protectorate, an extinguisher of human life on every world where it has managed to find a foothold. You are, if I may say so, Takeshi, a little inconsistent.”
‘Looking back on Altered Carbon more than a decade and a half after I wrote it, I still regret not making clearer linkage between Reileen Kawahara’s accusation aboard Head in the Clouds that Kovacs is a moral hypocrite and Kovacs’s decision to help Irene Elliott because he wants there to be something clean at the end of all this. It’s not vital to the flow of the narrative that the reader make that connection, of course, the act of kindness does stand alone (though it paints Kovacs a shade more acceptable than I’d ideally like). But linking solidly back would have been better – it would have shown Kovacs’ actions as less than purely selfless, it would have underlined a moral equivalence between Kovacs and Kawahara, and it would have emphasised a bit better just how lost Kovacs really is.’
– Author Richard K. Morgan on the moral equivalence between hero and villain in Altered Carbon.
Richard K. Morgan